Holidays

The Resurrection and the Life – New Year’s Resolutions

It is that time again to make and keep your New Year’s resolutions. My resolution is to be kinder to my family my children and to be less critical. Whatever you do you should follow the example of Jesus in the making and keeping of your resolutions. Here is a painting by Doc Christensen called “The Resurrection and the Life” that helps us remember Him. Let us all seek to be kinder as he is, wise as he is and loving as he is in 2014.

The Resurrection and the life by Doc Christensen.

The Resurrection and the life by Doc Christensen.

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Christmas Is Here Again

Christmas-is-Here-AgainIf you want a movie that will melt the heart of even the grinchiest of scrooges this is your movie. This is a cartoon that shares what the world would be like if there was no Christmas and then goes on to show you a little girl who helps bring Christmas back to the world.

Santa’s enemy Krad steels Santa’s sack (which was made of out of the swaddling clothes) and Christmas goes dark for over 30 years. Until this is all uncovered by a little Girl name Sophiana. Sophiana and a group of friends find Krad and help recover Santa’s sack in time for Christmas. There is a surprise ending that makes the movie fun.

The animation is old school. The music is good. The girl who play’s Sophiana’s voice is fantastic. If you can get one of your grinchy relatives, although they probably would not admit it this movie will melt any ones heart.

What Does Christmas Really Mean to You?

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I avoided calling this post “The True Meaning of Christmas” because I think that is cliche. What Christmas might mean to me is different than what it might mean to another. For example some people might say that it is about the Saviors Birth, (which is what we celebrate) I believe that it is about his life. Christmas is a Christian holiday but it originated from the Catholic Church. Christ’s Mass became Christmas. I have great respect for the Catholics and appreciate what they gave us with Christmas. So for some they might feel that the celebration of Christmas is pagan because of its roots. I love Christmas and I love studying about the life of Jesus. 

I remember when I was about 9 years old we had a Christmas program at our church they did some songs but had a slide show showing the life of Jesus Christ. I asked my primary teacher how long did Jesus live she said 33 years. That was the first time I had ever heard that. This slide show began a life long love of studying the savior life. The true meaning of Christmas is that he lives and he loves us.

One of my favorite paintings is the Hands of the Master, which I think exemplifies what Christmas should be about His life and what he did for us.

May you each have a merry Christmas and find out what Christmas means to you! For this and other paintings please visit http://www.prophetpaintings.com

 

 

The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas

Oak Ridge Boys ChristamasA few years back, I went to the Conference Center and watched the Oak Ridge Boys performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was incredible. The choir began to raise the roof with their hand begging the Oak Ridge Boys to perform their signature song “Elvira”. The lead singers was told by the choir members that it would not be an Oak Ridge Boys concert if they did not sing the song Elvira. So they sang the song and you could see the choir rocking out. It was different to say the least.

One song that they performed stood out to me “Thank God for Kids” a simple song about how we need to treasure the moments with our children. I went to Deseret Industries and looked for ¬†any Oak Ridge Boys albums I could find on LP (Vinyl Records).

I found the “Oak Ridge Boys Christmas”

which I fell in love with. However, old records are clunky they are cool but clunky. I listened to it over and over again last Christmas.

For family performance we found the sheet music to the song “Thank God for Kids” and sang that for our family program we do every year.

I have lots of favorite songs on the album, one that stood out to me was the song “little One” which is a song about a dad who sees his little daughter sitting next to the fire place as she dreams of Christmas and he is excited in his heart that Christmas is here for his daughter and he takes her to bed. Then it switches to Joseph and Mary. Mary rests and Joseph marvels at the new little boy and is excited in his heart that God now has taken on flesh and come into the world.

I tried to find the CD and thought I had found it but it was the wrong one there are two albums both are good but the “Oak Ridge Boys Christmas” is superior to “A Christmas with the Oak Ridge Boys” I finally went onto Amazon and actually found the right album. I look forward to listening to it this Christmas. I start celebrating Christmas at Thanksgiving.

For more information visit http://www.prophetpaintings.com

Charlie Brown Holiday Specials

Though not a Mormon thing, the Charlie Brown holiday specials will always have a place in my media library. We recently purchased the Charlie Brown holiday specials on Blu Ray. This was great decisions. They are quite spiritual in nature. In a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Linus quotes one of the original Thanksgiving prayers. In a Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas by quoting the King James Version of the Christmas story found in Luke 2.

The Great Pumpkin is fun though not too spiritual of a message or meaning. However my 1 (almost 2 year old) daughter was running around the house yelling “Great Pumpkin, Great Pumpkin”

In a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Charlie Brown is convinced to host Thanksgiving he serves toast, pop corn, jelly beans, and pretzels, he is chastised for doing so by his friends. my wife and I both agreed that our children would rather have that Thanksgiving dinner than a traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Our children unfortunately are picky eaters, however, all those things they will eat.

Mormons love the message of Charlie Brown.

For additional products and information visit http://www.prophetpaintings.com

Santa Claus as a Fantasy

During the Holiday season I pondered on how to approach the idea of Santa Claus. One of my favorite things to do is to watch movies that tell the stories of how the “jolly old elf” came to be. Such classics as:

  • Santa Claus is coming to Town
  • Santa Claus the Movie
  • Santa and Pete
  • Christmas Story (the Finnish movie about Kris Kringle)
  • Christmastime is Here Again
  • Ernest Saves Christmas
  • Elf
  • Prep and Landing

I enjoy watching these with my children, especially enjoy the ones with religious references though very, very mythological and apocryphal I enjoy the feeling that they give me during the yuletide.

When it came to telling my children about Santa Claus I was not sure what to do until I was praying about it one day, then it became all so clear. I needed to treat Santa like I treat Star Wars for my children. My little boy who is 5 knows that Star Wars is a fantasy, he knows that Luke Skywalker is just for pretend. I explained to him that Santa was also just for pretend and that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and that Santa Claus is just a story to help us understand giving to others.

His 3 year old sister heard these conversations and it did not quite sync in because she still has not grasped the idea of fantasy versus reality, but about 4-5 years old is when I have found that the distinction is made in children’s minds.

You may think that I am being like the mother on “Miracle on 34th Street” and not allowing my children any fantasy, however, that is actually inaccurate because the fantasy of Santa Claus still exists but as a fantasy. We as a family still play games, make Santa art, and tell Santa stories but with the understanding that these stories are just for fun. They also still wake up Christmas morning with gifts from us that are tagged with from Santa and love to pretend that they were given by man coming on his sleigh to their home.

This has been a big blessing in our family to teach Santa this way because:

  1. As Santa is a fantasy it allows us to enjoy stories, movies, and books about him without our children asking questions like, “how does Santa do that all in one night?” we no longer have to make up stories because if it is all a fantasy then it really does not matter.
  2. Our children don’t feel like we are hiding anything from them and when we are hiding things from them, they understand. We were wrapping presents in the other room and the children wanted to see, we told them that Santa was in his workshop and they understood and were able to go play. But they were pretending that Santa was working on his presents.
  3. We don’t destroy their faith in things that are true, when some children are older and the myth has been carried on until they are 10, 11, or 12 at that age they begin to see that the Santa Claus story does not make sense and so revealing the truth about Santa makes them wonder if the Story of the Birth of Jesus is fact or fiction or if there is a Heavenly Father. We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have very unique beliefs that we don’t want to get confused with fantasy and this allows us to separate truth from fiction.
  4. The stories do not lose their luster. The story of Santa is pure fun, I love the story of Santa when we explain to our children that Santa is supposed to be fun and not a threat, separating the naughty from the nice children. They actually have fun and we can joke and play games pretending about the big fat jolly man and his elves. Because his story does not lose any luster the stories that matter such as the birth of Jesus don’t lose their luster either.
  5. Our children know that the presents come from us so they don’t ask for things as much. They just get excited to know that on Christmas morning we will have fun presents for them.
  6. They don’t feel threatened by the naughty and nice list.

Challenges

The only challenge that I have found about teaching Santa in this way is other parents. Most parents still want their children to believe, I don’t think this is a problem but our children might try to explain how we do Santa to other children. The truth is that this can never ever be prevented especially when children start school class mates will eventually try to tell each other about the non-existence of the man in the red suit and how their parents bring the goodies and gifts. That is no excuse so we also explain to our children that other families will choose to teach their children that Santa is real and that they don’t need to tell their friends that he is not real. Our oldest child, really seems to understand and has not spoiled it for his cousin who is about 6 months younger than him.

Conclusion

Santa Claus is a treasured part of our family traditions but he is just one part the most important part is the birth of Jesus. James E. Talmage put it this way in regards to the birth of the Savior:

“In vivid contrast with the simplicity and brevity of the scriptural account and of its paucity of incidental details, is the mass of circumstance supplied by the imagination of men, much of which is wholly unsupported by authoritative record and in many respects is plainly inconsistent and untrue. It is the part of prudence and wisdom to segregate and keep distinctly separate the authenticated statements of fact, in so momentous a matter, from the fanciful commentaries of historians, theologians, and writers of fiction, as also from the emotional rhapsodies of poets and artistic extravaganzas wrought by chisel or brush.” (Jesus the Christ, Chapter 8)

He is not saying that we throw out all of the fun ideas; however our children need to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and doing this makes it more fun for our children and us as parents. I still believe in Santa and he holds a place in my heart but as a fantasy not a reality.